Grand fi­nal­ists crowned

Benalla Ensign - - Communityvoice -

The Kelly Gang has snatched the ul­ti­mate prize.

The A-grade grand fi­nal held last week was al­ways go­ing to be a close en­counter.

With com­bat­ants, Plovers and Owls each led by the equal top play­ers in the com­pe­ti­tion, the out­come was go­ing to de­pend on who could best stand up to the pres­sure.

In a fiery first set, John Ba­jada showed his strength to score an im­pres­sive 19-21, 21-16, 21-11 win against Plovers’ Mick Kelly, after a slow start.

Both play­ers adopted an at­tack style game with Ba­jada even­tu­ally com­ing out on top.

Plovers’ Jeff Austen then equalised the score with a bril­liant straight sets vic­tory over against Ba­jada in a hard-fought clash.

Austen’s abil­ity to keep the ball in play won him the match.

But it was the dou­bles which al­tered the course of the match.

Kelly and Austen were in trou­ble early, drop­ping the first game eas­ily to Owls, but then re­gained their com­po­sure to steady and win the sec­ond 21-14.

The de­cid­ing game was full of drama, with a win giv­ing ei­ther team a dis­tinct ad­van­tage head­ing into the re­verse sin­gles clashes.

Owls poured on the pres­sure, at­tack­ing any re­turn that was too high, dis­patch­ing them ac­cord­ingly.

They jumped away to a big lead and looked to have the match in their grasp.

With Owls lead­ing at 20-16, the ex­pe­ri­enced Kelly made a tac­ti­cal change.

He slowed the tempo of the game and forced the op­po­si­tion to the net.

The strat­egy worked, with Owls tens­ing up, mak­ing er­rors un­der pres­sure.

In the most thrilling fin­ish of the night, Plovers gained the ini­tia­tive, com­ing from be­hind to win the de­cid­ing game, 22-20 to take a 2-1 lead com­ing into the fi­nal sin­gles round.

Owls’ John Ba­jada was at his bril­liant best to win the first re­verse sin­gles, with a straight sets vic­tory against Jeff Austen, lev­el­ling the score at 2-2.

With the re­sult hang­ing on the fi­nal sin­gles, Mick Kelly made sure of a Plovers grand fi­nal vic­tory with a solid 21-14, 21-11 win against Dean Ba­jada in a hard-fought af­fair. B-grade A mag­nif­i­cent per­for­mance from top player Daniel Dokka won the B-grade grand fi­nal for the Wom­bats against ri­vals Mozzies in a high-stan­dard af­fair.

He had played ex­tremely well all sea­son and showed his class to ac­count for both sin­gles in style.

He had strong sup­port from Bill Sharp, who was in top form to win a sin­gles to take the team to an im­pres­sive 3-2 vic­tory.

Mozzies’ Hen­ning Aretz was in fine touch, win­ning a sin­gles be­fore com­bin­ing with Peter Wil­liams for an out­stand­ing straight sets dou­bles vic­tory. C-grade After lead­ing the com­pe­ti­tion for most of the sea­son, it was no sur­prise to see Mag­pies con­tinue their im­pres­sive form to score a con­vinc­ing 3-1 vic­tory against Crick­ets.

Out­stand­ing ju­nior Jack­son Squires showed his class, pro­duc­ing some amaz­ing ta­ble ten­nis to ac­count for both sin­gles in tight matches.

He was well sup­ported by the ex­pe­ri­enced Kaye Grosser, who won the de­cid­ing sin­gles in a fan­tas­tic ef­fort to seal the win.

Crick­ets’ He­len Sharp and El­liot McCal­lum gave their best ef­fort, but could only man­age a win in the dou­bles.

Lead­ing play­ers — win­ter.

A-grade: Mick Kelly and John Ba­jada — 19 wins

B-grade: Daniel Dokka — 21 wins

C-grade: Jack­son Squires — 19 wins

Swan­pool ta­ble ten­nis grand fi­nal re­sults

A-grade The Bomber’s Colin Ex­ton and John Ba­jada over­came their ‘hoodoo’ for lead­ing all year and then los­ing grand fi­nals when they won this year’s grand fi­nal four rub­bers to one against the Ea­gle’s Jim Renkin and Shaun Mur­phy.

Ba­jada was the top player win­ning both of his sin­gles rub­bers and Ex­ton and Mur­phy win­ning a sin­gles each. B-grade The Ta­tong Saint’s Dan Grima and Ge­off Draper proved their met­tle when it counts, win­ning the grand fi­nal with a score of four rub­bers to one against the Swan­pool Swan’s Chris See­ley and emer­gency player Mike Larkin.

Draper played best on the night win­ning both sin­gles, with See­ley and Grima win­ning a sin­gles each.

Larkin won only one of the three games against Grima in their sin­gles rub­ber.

The pre­sen­ta­tion din­ner and awards will be held tonight at the Ta­tong Tav­ern start­ing at 6 pm.

Ac­tion: (back) A-grade play­ers Jim Ba­jada and Jim Renkin; while at the front B-grade play­ers Dan Grima and Chris See­ley play the sin­gles rub­bers.

Win­ning feel­ing: Plovers’ Mick Kelly helped his team to a grand fi­nal vic­tory against the Owls.

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